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Kaveh Akbar reads a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, translated from Arabic by poet Fady Joudah.

Kaveh Akbar:

I Didn't Apologize to the Well (2006) by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Fady Joudah
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My name is Kaveh Akbar.

This poem is by the poet Mahmoud Darwish, translated by the poet Fady Joudah. The poem is called "I Didn't Apologize to the Well".

I've been thinking a lot about this poem and this poet, there's this line in this poem "I broke the myth and I broke" and I've been thinking a lot about the ways I rely upon myth, the ways in which many people rely upon myth, and what happens when those myths fracture. What happens to me when the myth upon which I've built some part of my being fractures. When that's the foundation, the bedrock.

I Didn't Apologize to the Well

I didn't apologize to the well when I passed the well,
I borrowed from the ancient pine tree a cloud
and squeezed it like an orange, then waited for a gazelle
white and legendary.  And I ordered my heart to be patient:
Be neutral as if you were not of me!  Right here
the kind shepherds stood on air and evolved
their flutes, then persuaded the mountain quail toward
the snare.  And right here I saddled a horse for flying toward
my planets, then flew.  And right here the priestess 
told me: Beware of the asphalt road and the cars
and walk upon your exhalation.  Right here,
I slackened my shadow and waited, I picked the tiniest
rock and stayed up late.  I broke the myth and I broke.
And I circled the well until I flew from myself
to what isn't of it.  A deep voice shouted at me:
This grave isn't your grave.  So I apologized.
I read verses from the wise holy book, and said
to the unknown one in the well: Salaam upon you the day
you were killed in the land of peace, and the day you rise
from the darkness of the well alive!